Columbia Southern Fees with DETC

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Neil Hynd, Mar 8, 2001.

  1. Neil Hynd

    Neil Hynd New Member


    I just wondered if anyone knew the cost factors involved in Col South (as an example) moving from a state-licensed operation to a DETC accredited one and hiking its bachelor's fee rate by 47% and its master's fee rate by 52% ?

    What is now done that wasn't done before and what does it cost ?


  2. PaulC

    PaulC Member

    Someone posted that Northcentral raised their rates also, this with just the expectance of accreditation. It looks to me as though this is simply the added value of legitimate accreditation coming into play.
  3. Bob Harris

    Bob Harris New Member

    Another way to look at it is that this is no more than a heavy-handed "tax" imposed on this business for the purpose of keeping the accreditor in positive cash flow. This tax is then passed on to the consumer in the form of a tuition increase. It makes one wonder if one of the many factors used to determine whether or not a school is to be accredited (besides high quality programs) is the potential earning power of the school and subsequent increased "tax" revenues to the accreditor.
  4. Neil Hynd

    Neil Hynd New Member

    Hi Bob,

    That's one way to look at it .... and would suggest a "heavy handed" approach to stack the accreditation dice towards keeping the fees high - and who knows, maybe keeping the student "riff raff" out ?

    Actually, I'm interested in the cost structures behind all this - especially when a purely DL operation with low overheads can seem to survive economically at roughly half the fee rates of courses emanating from "traditional" sources.

    And I'm a little suspicious of fee hikes which coincide with attaining a particular level of accreditation.

    After all, as the Col South web site mentions, its annual state licence required a given amount of probity, educational and related information and physcial inspections.

    Hence my question about the "differences" ....



  5. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Did they? I just checked the website, and they list tuition at $120 per credit. I thought that was the price before, but maybe I'm mistaken.

    Doctoral study at $120 per credit is a bargain if they indeed become a candidate for accreditation. Even though candidacy isn't a guarantee of eventual accreditation, it makes a strong case for that outcome. And while earning a degree before accreditation technically gives you a degree from an unaccredited school, this isn't usually a problem in reality, especially if the school was a candidate when you graduated and it eventually does become accredited.

    But my money is still on thumbs down, unless Northcentral implements some residency requirements into the doctoral programs. Wes? Are you listening? [​IMG]

    Rich Douglas, Ph.D. (Candidate)
    Centro de Estudios Universitarios
    Monterrey, NL, Mexico
  6. Neil Hynd

    Neil Hynd New Member

    Hi Rich,

    This was the NCU statement ..... bachelor credits were $110, graduate $120

    Northcentral University (NCU) takes a major step toward accreditation!
    NCU has been recommended for Initial Candidacy for Accreditation by the Site
    Visit Evaluation Team for North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
    Please visit our web site for full details:
    Earn your Bachelor's, Master's or Ph.D. in business & Technology or
    Psychology entirely through Distance Learning (no residency).
    Effective March 15, 2001, tuition will increase to $165.00 per unit. Please
    contact Admissions for more information.
    Call Today: (800)903-9381 ext. 8228

    Lorrie Weiland
    Northcentral University
    [email protected]

  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Outstanding. If I was in the market, I'd wait for the candidacy announcement. The difference in price amounts to very little. Assuming one comes into the program with an earned master's in the appropriate area and enough transfer credit, one would have to complete 48 credits. At $45 per credit for the increase, this would amount to an additional $2160. If one could only transfer in 30 credits, the March 15th increase would amount to $2970. While this may sound like a lot, it's not so bad considering the accreditation question. I assumed tuition would go up to at least $200 per semester hour. Touro's is $500 per!

    (Of course, all of this assumes one may lock in one's tuition rate at the lower level by enrolling before March 15th. If not, this discussion is moot.)

    Rich Douglas
  8. Tom Head

    Tom Head New Member

    I asked myself this question in reference to NCU: Why should they ask for more money once they reach, or come closer to reaching, accreditation? The answer I came up with: "Because now they can get it." Ain't our private system wonderful?

    Besides, this way they get to reward all of their old students for taking a chance on an unaccredited school. (That's the closest thing to a noble excuse I can come up with, but it's probably a little far-fetched.)



    Tom Head
    co-author, Get Your IT Degree and Get Ahead (Osborne/McGraw-Hill)
  9. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    The increased revenue generated by the per-credit price hike isn't passed through to the accreditor, is it?
  10. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    OK, let's do a comparison. The HUX program at CSUDH was charging about $140/unit when I last was enrolled there about 10 months ago. They operate on a break-even basis. Actually a little less, I think, since I think they get rent-free office space and many of their clerical staff are work-study students that may be paid from different funds. This is a correspondence program with little expensive web presence to support. The bulk of their expenses goes to pay a fairly large faculty, most of whom work part-time for the program.

    Northcentral is not even a candidate for accreditation yet. They simply had a site visit and got some complimentary remarks from the team.

    As I understand it, acheiving candidacy is basically a matter of having a credible organization and plan. Then the candidacy period is devoted to letting the accreditor see those plans in actual operation. The applicant for candidacy need not have their whole proposed program up and running at the time of application.

    That means that if Northcentral acheives candidacy, there may be additional associated costs as plans on paper move into actual practice. In particular, I'd expect additional expensive academic staff to be hired in order to flesh out the course listings.

    So I'd say that if they can develop their programs at a cost of $165/unit, they are probably operating at very close to the break-even level.
  11. Bob Harris

    Bob Harris New Member

    I really don't know. Why else would the tuition be increased other than to pay certain fees imposed upon by the accreditor (although I do think its fair for a school to charge more than before being accredited – but how much is appropriate?). I'm curious to know how much the institution must pay the accreditor for the services it provides. And, is that amount covered by the tuition rate hike? What services are performed by the accreditor? Is it a flat yearly fee paid to the DETC (or regional accreditor) or is it based on a percentage of tuition revenue? How is the amount determined?

    I recall reading some very good information on the subject of accreditation by Dr. Bear on Perhaps I’ll re-visit this again.

  12. Neil Hynd

    Neil Hynd New Member

    Hi Rich,

    This may be only the first hike ... more to follow as accreditation is completed.

    Plus, compared eg. with MIGS at $150 I think - and $50 for transfer credits, NCU allows no credit for prior learning.



  13. Chip

    Chip Administrator

  14. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Close. My concern was the awarding of life experience credits. I feel that credit not already awarded by in institution of higher learning (and thus transferred in) should be assessed within the student's degree program. For example, a Union learner entering his/her program with a great deal of experience could spend most of his/her efforts on demonstrating mastery, rather than on mastering the subject material.

    I feel exactly the same way about MIGS. Instead of awarding someone credit for being a mid-level executive in a company (like you might do via portfolio in an undergrad program), set up one or more assessments to satisfy the program's competency requirements within the context of the degree. That way, the faculty mentor and other supervising faculty can truly attest to one's competency.

    (Personally, I think life experience credit at any level is objectionable on the same grounds. USNY/Regents/Excelsior doesn't award it for the same reasons: if you have the knowledge, show it. Funny, they'll accept transferred life experience credits awarded elsewhere, though. Go figure.)

    Rich Douglas, Ph.D. (Candidate)
    Centro de Estudios Universitarios
    Monterrey, NL, Mexico
  15. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    One possibility is that Northcentral might not be operating all of their planned program at the present time. Many of the courses in their course catalog, for example, probably exist only on paper, never having been offered to students. Now that Northcentral appears confident of achieving candidacy, they will need to hire additional faculty to make those courses a reality.

    In other words, you probably don't create an entire university, right up to the doctoral level, all at once. You roll it out over time. Right now Northcentral is probably little more than a pilot program offering a few courses, plus a lot of plans and ambition.

    Making it all a reality will take money.

    As I suggested above, I think that $165/unit is probably pretty close to their break even point, barely covering their costs. Nobody is getting rich off this thing at this early point.
  16. Sam

    Sam New Member

    Chip, it appears that there are skeptical and less than positive feelings regarding NCU. Is this based on the reputation of their sister school SCUPS or is there some underlying issue that you could possibly clarify?Thanks.
  17. Randy Kearns

    Randy Kearns Member

    Several reasons:

    Now, there are additional costs associated with accreditation.

    Now, they award an accredited degree, before they did not.

    Compared to the market, still rather inexpensive for graduate level accredited education.

  18. Neil Hynd

    Neil Hynd New Member


    I was hoping that a respondent might know something of those cost factors, which is what the posting was about.



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